Moon shot? 远射

2020.06.23

Reader question:

Please explain "moon shot" in this sentence: Elizabeth Warren pitches her environmental agenda as a jobs-and-stimulus package — a 21st-century version of Eisenhower’s interstate highway program or JFK’s moon shot.

My comments:

In other words, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has quite an ambitious plan in regards to the environment.

You see, Eisenhower, Dwight Eisenhower that is, who as 34th president of the United States (1953–61) built roads linking American states up; JFK, or John F. Kennedy as 35th president (1961–63), presided over the space program that sent the first human onto the moon.

Those were monumental pieces of work. So, for Warren to be compared to that duo is quite an honor, meaning her plan to ease global warming is equally ambitious. Most politicians want to avoid climate change projects because they are, among other things, costly. Warren's plan, however, will create jobs and provide fresh stimulus to the economy.

Hence and therefore, her plan is likened to a moon shot.

Yes, moon shot means literally a shot at the moon, sending a spacecraft to the moon, for instance.

Moon shot, however, came into the American lexicon before the moon landing. It was originally named after the US baseball player Wallace Moon (born 1930), who was renowned for his ability to hit the ball high up over the left-field boundary fence in the Los Angeles Coliseum. His arching shots reached so high in the sky that fans thought they were going straight to the moon.

So, moon shot or moonshot means some incredibly long shot (meaning an unlikely shot) or an ambitious endeavor matching, metaphorically speaking, mankind's first moon landing.

Here are media examples:

1. During a recent morning audit of my Twitter feed, I noted a particular tweet from a respected journalist: "FB making big announcement next Wednesday." "Hmm" I thought, "It can't be a coincidence that this big announcement comes during Google Plus' new found glow in the media spotlight."

I pondered the topic of Facebook's announcement, which the punditry seems to believe revolves around Facebook's impending deal with Skype. I wondered how Facebook's continued alliance with Microsoft is intended to hit Google where it hurts -- in its search business. But mostly in my uninformed speculation, I imagined an alternate reality where Facebook's big announcement is simply an admission that it is very, very scared of the Google+ initiative (functional merits notwithstanding). In my thought experiment, this announcement becomes the pivotal breakthrough moment that endears it to millions, giving it a much needed boost to its flailing consumer goodwill. In this version of reality, Facebook realizes its ultimate triumph through humility.

But in the real world, the Facebook we know seems tone-deaf to the range of negative public sentiment that any high-profile company should be able to read expertly (especially one preparing for a $100 billion IPO). One cannot help but recognize that today's seeds of discontent portend a possible groundswell shift as soon as a viable option appears -- "big announcement" notwithstanding. The pathetic $35 million sale of MySpace should serve as a dire warning to Facebook. As should the decade-before-its-time moonshot of TheGlobe.com.

"Nah," you say, "Facebook is too big, too entrenched." It does seem inconceivable but a broader perspective gives us a different take.

It has become startlingly clear that Google and Facebook are entering the next major phase of their epic battle to dominate the marketing world. This clash of the titans pits mature Google, the marketing platform of the Internet Age, against the relatively young Facebook, the communications platform of the Social Age. Each combatant is stretching itself to encompass the capabilities of the other with the near simultaneous emergence of Google+ and Facebook's self-serve marketing platform. The corporate generals are lining up their battalions in what will be an assault of targeting code launched against Judy Consumer in the arms race to marketing domination. In this battle, Judy Consumer is little more than a powerless fleck of data, with her privacy, identity and social information just collateral damage -- regrettably expendable.

- WHY GOOGLE+ IS THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO FACEBOOK, Adage.com, by Judy Shapiro, July 06, 2011.

2. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy told Congress he wanted to see an American on the Moon. Eight years later, his “moonshot” came to fruition, and Neil Armstrong took one giant leap for mankind.

Tuesday night, during his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for a moonshot of his own, placing Vice President Joe Biden in charge of an effort to eliminate cancer.

"For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all," he said.
Writing for Medium.com earlier this week, Biden, who lost his son to cancer in 2015, asked for the stories of those whose lives have been affected by cancer.

In addition to his personal desire to see cancer eliminated, Biden also laid out his plans for how to eliminate cancer.

"And the goal of this initiative  —  this "Moonshot"  —  is to seize this moment," he wrote. "To accelerate our efforts to progress towards a cure, and to unleash new discoveries and breakthroughs for other deadly diseases."

- Cancer experts weigh in on presidential ‘moonshot’ for cure, Kinston.com, January 16, 2016.

3. Testing for the coronavirus would have to be at least doubled or tripled from its current levels to allow for even a partial reopening of America's economy, public health experts say, but it is unclear how soon such an ambitious goal could be reached amid persistent shortages of testing supplies and a lack of coordination from the Trump administration.

Without diagnostic testing on a massive scale, federal and state officials and private companies will lack a clear picture of who has been infected, who can safely return to work, how the virus is spreading and when stay-at-home orders can be eased, public health experts say.

"We are an order of magnitude off right now from where we should be," said Dylan George, an expert in infectious disease modeling who advised the administration of President Barack Obama in combating the Ebola epidemic. "Testing is the perpetual problem here."

President Donald Trump announced federal guidelines Thursday to ease stay-at-home orders that leave it up to the states to decide on timing. The president outlined a gradual process that would be based on benchmarks like declines in positive cases.

"We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time," Trump said.

...

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has said his "moon shot" goal for the state is 5,000 tests a day. The biggest hurdle is not testing capacity at labs but the ability of the state's health care system to collect that many samples a day, said Maureen Sullivan, supervisor of the emergency preparedness and response unit for the state's infectious disease labs.

"The issue now isn't so much the lab supplies. It's other supplies," Sullivan said, in particular personal protective equipment and viral transport media — the liquid used to preserve the genetic material to be tested.

- Coronavirus testing must double or triple before U.S. can safely reopen, experts say, MSN.com, April 17, 2020.

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About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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